How essential oils can make your pet sick

HEALTHLINE: You may love essential oils but they can harm your pets

(WAFB) - Essential oil diffusers are popular Christmas presents but they can make your pet sick!

“Even though we think they’re not eating it unless it spills, just diffusing into the air can be a respiratory irritant, and cats it lands on their fur, and then they lick themselves, and then they’ve ingested it,” explains Dr. Allison Fields, of the VCA Murphy Road Animal Hospital in Nashville, Tenn.

Fields say inhalation and consumption of essential oils can be toxic, even deadly to dogs and cats.

“A lot of problems that we see are either respiratory issues, we can see drooling, vomiting, lethargy. They can also act like they’re drunk. We call that ataxia, and we can also see some that cause liver failure,” Fields said.

Dr. Fields has treated local dogs with liver issues which she believes were caused by essential oils. The big culprits are tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil.

“If your pet does get into any essential oils you need to call your veterinarian, but ideally call the pet poison hotline,” Dr. Fields says.

According to the experts, cats lack an enzyme in their liver so they have trouble breaking down essential oils. "They can be very dangerous to pets and cats, more so than dogs," Dr. Fields explains.

If you frequently use an essential oil diffuser for health reasons, Dr. Fields says to make sure your pet can’t inhale any of the microdroplets.

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